Sept. 16, 2011
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Junior Jessica Rydberg won the women's 5K race and sophomore Martin Grady finished second in the men's five mile race to power the Notre Dame women's and men's cross country squads to a pair of victories at the 32nd annual National Catholic Championships on Friday afternoon at the Notre Dame Cross Country Course.
Rydberg's time (17:16) was the fastest since Notre Dame's JoAnna Deeter ran 16:52 in 1999. It's also the third-fastest time in the meet's history. She is the ninth straight Notre Dame women's runner to win the meet.
The Pinetop, Ariz., native was followed by sophomore Alexa Aragon (2nd, 17:24), senior Molly Hirt (5th, 17:31), junior Rebecca Tracy (6th, 17:33) and sophomore Kelly Curran (7th, 17:34) in the scoring column.
The Irish women outdistanced the field as eight of the first 13 runners to cross the finish line, including six of 10, wore Notre Dame blue and gold. The team finished with 22 total points. Runner-up Dayton finished 39 points behind the Irish at 61 points.
The Irish women have won 18 times out of the last 20 years, including 10 straight years.
Grady led a pack of six Irish men's runners in the top 10, to help the Irish score a meet-low 28 points. They outdistanced the next closest competitor, Marquette, by 60 points.
The Notre Dame men won for the third straight year and for the 20th time in the last 24 years.
In all four freshman women and two freshman men competed in their first National Catholic Championships.
"We wanted to come out aggressive and remain in control and we did," said women's head coach Tim Connelly. "We did what we were supposed to do. We are still training, so we expect to continue to improve as the year goes along."
"We competed well, but we will have to get much better to compete in the races later in the year," said men's head coach Joe Piane.
The Irish return to action in two weeks when they play host to the adidas Notre Dame Invitational, which has been run since 1956 on the men's side and 1987 on the women's side. Last year the men finished seventh, while the women placed 18th.